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Urbus prepares to list

By Christine Nikiel

Friday 18th July 2003

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The heat is on property company Urbus to perform as it gears up for a Stock Exchange listing on Monday.

The company, which has a portfolio of $390 million, has experienced thin trading volumes during its two and a half years on the secondary board. The test, market sources say, will be whether Urbus, the country's fourth-largest property company on an asset backing basis, can attract busier trading.

Urbus shares were yesterday trading at 90c. A further test will be whether the country's major institutional investors will want to get behind it.

Analysts said greater exposure to the public gaze would act as a good discipline on the Urbus board and its management to perform well but it would be slow-going gaining in stature with investors.

Urbus has found it hard going shedding the stigma of its time as a syndicator of properties involved with the John and Shayne Hodge-backed Waltus in the late 1990s, some of which did not yield promised returns.

Urbus director John Whitehead said the company was aware of its "history" and was trying to change its image.

The Hodges were high-profile and would always be linked to the Waltus syndicate in investors' minds, Mr Whitehead said. But Urbus now had four independent directors on its board plus the Hodges, and would be trying to carve out a place as a successful listed company.

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